City of Key West Recycling FAQs

How often – and on what days is recycled material collected?Recycled materials for households are collected once per week – check with Waste Management (WM) for your day. Cost of recycling – for households and condominiums – is included in your monthly bill from the City of Key West.

Do items need to be separated (plastic, aluminum, tin, paper)? No, The City of Key West uses a “single stream” recycling. The items are separated once they reach the recycle facility in Broward County.

Do I need to take the labels off jars and cans?
No need to waste water and energy struggling with stubborn, gummy labels. They will be burned off during the recycling process.

What are some of the items that do NOT go in the recycling bin?
Plastic bags (take to Publix, Winn-Dixie or other collection sites)
Styrofoam (take to Publix or other collection sites)
– Mirrors, window or auto glass
– Light bulbs of any kind (CFLs can be recycled at Home Depot)
– Batteries (AAA, AA, C & D can be recycled at Radio Shack)
– ceramics or porcelain
– Film canisters
– Painted or treated wood
– Paper towels
– Plastic wrap

How clean do containers need to be before they go into the recycling bin?
A good rinse will suffice; a little residue at the top of a bottle, for example, is fine. Just remove all food bits and other bits of trash, cigarette butts, etc.

How do I find out what to do with hard-to-recycle items?
A surprisingly wide variety of products are recycled by various organizations for free or with a small fee. Computers, cooking oil, foam peanuts, and light bulbs are just a few of the items you can recycle with very little effort by taking them to a drop-off center — instead of throwing them away. For drop-off centers in your area, check with WM or public works department.

Is recycling really cost-effective and does it improve the environment?
Yes, recycling is cost-effective.  The paper, bottles & cans collected in the Key West recycling program are sorted at the materials recovery facility in Broward County.  Recycling improves the environment in many ways:

  • Key West city waste is taken either to the Recycle Center or to the “Waste-to-Energy” facility in Broward County.
  • Recycling conserves natural resources.
  • Supplying recycled materials to an industry uses less energy than supplying virgin materials that incur extra extraction and transportation costs.
  • Manufacturing with recycled materials, with very few exceptions, produces less air and water pollution than manufacturing with virgin materials

Where can I take packing materials such as packing peanuts, bubble wrap and styrofoam blocks to be reused?
Packing peanuts, bubble wrap and Styrofoam blocks can be taken to one of the shipping companies in Key West to be reused (both PakMail & UPS Store are on N. Roosevelt Blvd).


If a glass or plastic product doesn’t have a recycling logo on it, can it still be recycled?
Possibly. The recycling symbol is unregulated and placed on containers by plastic-container manufacturers for their own use. So you’ll probably end up with containers that are emblazoned with recycling symbols yet are not recyclable, and vice-versa. If you’re not sure if something is recyclable, it’s probably better to put it in the trash than in the recycling bin.


How can I tell which plastics are recyclable?
The numbers inside the “chasing arrows” recycling symbol on the bottom of plastic containers indicate recyclability. They reflect the plastic resin content of the plastic. WM accepts all #1 – #7 plastics. This includes the plastic boxes that fresh fruit is sold in, prescription medicine containers, yogurt containers and plastic trays that microwavable meals come in – check the number on the bottom of the plastic item.

Why do plastics have a number on them if they can’t be recycled?
The numbering system was designed so that plastics could be sorted according to a few broad categories. Once the system was adopted, recycling companies were able to identify plastic containers by type. Recycling companies could thus separate and collect the plastic types that had sufficient market value to cover the costs of collection and transportation.

Can caps and lids on plastic containers be recycled?
YES. Separating plastic bottle caps and lids is a good recycling habit, but they can now be put in the recycling bin.

Can plastic bags be recycled curbside?
NO. NOT in curbside recycling. The recycling process’ biggest problem is plastic bags mixed in with recycled materials; it jams the equipment. Do not include them in your recycle bin.
The good news: Clean plastic bags can be dropped off at Publix (east end, along with clean styrofoam food containers, egg cartons and paper bags), Albertson’s, Winn Dixie and other locations.


Can aluminum foil be recycled with cans?
Yes. WM will accept aluminum foil if it is clean.

What about lids for tin cans?
Lids are acceptable if they are securely fastened to (or inside) tin cans. Leaving them loose is a danger to those processing the materials.

Can aerosol cans be recycled?

Yes, aerosol cans can be recycled if they are completely empty.


What types of paper are recyclable?
MIXED PAPER – Newspaper, magazines, catalogs, junk mail, envelopes (even with the window), manila folders, brown paper bags, and fax paper.
– CARDBOARD – Pizza boxes (clean), frozen food boxes, corrugated boxes (wavy middle layer) and single layer cardboard (cereal boxes).
– waxy juice/milk containers

What type of paper is not recyclable?
Heavily colored paper, such as construction paper, is not recyclable.

Can I recycle shredded paper from my home?
Normally not. Most of what households shred is not recyclable because it is almost powder when it comes out. If the paper is at least 1/2″ wide and 4″ long, which means it still has fiber characteristic, it is recyclable. But if you use a diamond cut for privacy issues WM is not able to recycle it. So only shred what you have to anduse it for compost or shipping and recycle other paper. Composting is a great way to “recycle” shredded paper. Shredded paper is a good source of carbon, which is the main ingredient of a compost pile.

If something is made from recycled paper, can it be recycled again?
Yes. While it’s true that recycling paper and plastic over and over will degrade the quality, that doesn’t mean you can’t recycle it.


What colors of glass can be recycled?
Brown, Clear and Green glass bottles can be recycled. Blue glass bottles cannot be recycled.

What do I need to do to prepare the glass bottles?
Just remove the caps and corks and rinse out the bottles.

Why can’t I recycle broken drinking glassware with my glass bottles and jars?
The combination of ingredients used to make glassware (i.e. drinking glasses) is different from what goes into container glass. Glassware, ceramics, window panes, or mirrors can pose a threat to workers and equipment in a glass recycling plant.


How can I dispose of my old batteries?
There is no longer curbside battery recycling of alkaline (AAA-D) batteries. These can be recycled at Radio Shack or can now be taken – along with car, boat, and tool batteries – to the Cudjoe Transfer Station during regular hours.

Where can I dispose of my car battery and car oil?
Contact one of the local auto parts stores to drop off old car batteries and car oil.

How do I dispose of latex paint? It is water soluble.
Latex paints cannot be recycled – but can be disposed of in the garbage – if the lid is left off, to allow the paint to dry up.

Where can I dispose of my enamel paint and other hazardous materials?
These items must be taken to one of the following HazMat drop-off locations:
Cudjoe Transfer Station (on Blimp Rd, MM21.5), 8:00-4:00 on 1st and 3rd Wed of each month. Unusable electronic waste is also accepted at this location on same schedule. Call: 305-295-4314.